A new report on maternity care has found that women in Donegal have the lowest attendance rates for their first postnatal check-up with their GP.

Just 44.4% of women attended their GP check-up two weeks after the birth of their baby.

Of those who did not attend, most said it was because they did not know about it. A small number of other women said they knew about the check-up but did not attend.

A HIQA report on the National Maternity Experience Survey 2020, published today, has revealed that there is a significant geographical disparity when it comes to accessing postnatal GP care for women.

Women in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo had the lowest attendance at the 2-week check-up across counties.

On the other hand, women in Donegal showed high attendance levels at their 6-week appointments.

Nationally, most respondents were positive about the care and support they received, saying they were treated with respect and dignity, were spoken to in a clear, understandable way and had confidence and trust in their healthcare professional.

However, it also revealed that some women felt that more information was needed on changes they would experience to their mental and physical health, as well as their nutritional needs during pregnancy. When asked whether sufficient time was spent discussing mental health at the 6-week check-up, 44.4% of women in Donegal answered ‘yes, definitely’.

Speaking about the report, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards Rachel Flynn said:

“Care begins in the community and to that end, it is crucial that pregnant women can trust and have confidence in the treatment and advice they receive from their GP or family doctor.

“It is hugely encouraging to see that a majority of women have reported positive experiences as they prepare for one of life’s major milestones.

“More concerning however, is the correlation between geographical location and the provision of post-natal services. It is important that women in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo are afforded the same opportunities and can have the same expectation of care provision those in Ireland’s urban centres.

“It is clear that there is still work to be done to ensure women and babies across Ireland have access to the care and support they need.”